Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Career Options

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There are many Doctor of Nursing Practice career options and individuals who earn a DNP can increase advance their careers and salary. Prospective students can pursue a career path as a Nurse Practitioner (NP). However, they must earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree or a Doctor of Nursing Practice to be certified as a nurse practitioner.

Additionally, students must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Nursing before starting a DNP program. The Doctor of Nursing Practice, or DNP, is the pinnacle of training and education in nursing. It is also a requisite for many different career choices.

Now that you’ve earned your Doctor of Nursing Practice, it’s time to choose a career path. There are opportunities in both administrative and practical fields. From management and leadership positions to becoming a nurse-midwife or anesthetist, a DNP offers you a wide range of possible nursing jobs.

What is a DNP?

A Doctor of Nursing Practice is a terminal degree in the field of nursing practice. It is one of the highest degrees available, along with a Ph.D. in nursing. Certified nurses who want to attain some of the highest positions in their field will often pursue a DNP.

Unlike a PhD in Nursing, which is generally focused on scholarly research, a DNP focuses on the clinical and practical application of nursing. This is why most DNP programs will tend to integrate a nurse practitioner specialization.

Where Can You Work With a DNP?

For certified nurses who have obtained their Doctor of Nursing, the next step is to choose which position they wish to apply for to further their career path. Typically, a DNP will offer jobs in either administrative management or clinical practice capacity.

A role at a hospital or clinic commonly consists of the management of other nurses, research and development, and providing patient care in a leadership position. Below are some career examples of what a nurse with a DNP can do.

Administrative and Educational

For DNP-certified nurses, administrative positions can consist of multiple different key roles. From assuming executive leadership roles in nursing to utilizing scientific studies and data to directly affect a patient’s healthcare, the management workforce covers quite a bit of ground. Some examples include:

  • Health Care Executive
  • Nursing Faculty
  • Clinical Researcher
  • Lobbyist

Health Care Executive

Hospitals and most long-term care facilities have a very large number of employed physicians and staff, all within separate departments. These facilities operate with a sizeable infrastructure that requires trained and efficient management.

Health care executives are medical service managers who help coordinate and direct all healthcare services. This means that DNP nurse graduates will be involved with the day-to-day operations of the hospital or practice in an administrative capacity.

Nursing Faculty

For nursing faculty, nurses with a DNP will assume an instructive role in order to help further the education of their students. The conditions will vary depending on where the nurse is employed but can include responsibilities such as advising students and prospective nurses, as well as conducting research and publishing their work for submission to academic journals.

Clinical Researcher

Similar to those with a PhD in Nursing, DNP-certified nurses may follow focus on clinical research. Those who decide on a career in clinical research will seek to support or change a certain practice in order to improve health outcomes. This can range from the investigation of existing evidence to actually implementing new methodologies.

Health Care Lobbyist

DNP holders can pursue careers outside of hospitals and clinics. One such path is the health care lobbyist. Rather than being employed by a hospital or health care facility, these nurses can find jobs at government agencies or insurance companies.

The aim of becoming a healthcare lobbyist is to impact and influence healthcare policy through regulations and legislation. This field is more ideally suited for DNP nurses who seek a career that is underlined by politics and the study of law.

Advanced Practice: Direct Patient Care

Many nurses with DNPs work in direct patient and medical care and can pursue a career in advanced clinical practice. DNPs act as practicing nurses to directly influence the outcomes of a patient’s health in the respective field of nursing.

These jobs can be found in large hospitals or private homes. Below are some examples of direct clinical practice careers.

  • Nurse Midwife
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Midwife

Midwives provide health care services related to reproduction. A nurse-midwife is a career path for nurses with DNPs who want to help women through pregnancy. A midwife’s primary objective is to assist with births, but nurse-midwives actually provide counsel and care throughout the entire process.

Even from conception to the post-pregnancy period, midwives can offer health care and counseling services. Other responsibilities include gynecological services, prescribing medication, and educating the patient.

Family Nurse Practitioner

Family nurse practitioners collaborate with other healthcare professionals to supply a family with the care and services they need. This is an extensive field for advanced practice nurses with their DNP who offer a broad range of services for families. Services such as counseling and disease prevention are a few examples.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

According to data from the AANP, approximately five percent of nurse practitioners in the US work in psychiatric mental health. This field often entails medical and psychiatric diagnoses, prescribing psychotropic drugs, and also providing psychotherapy. Typically, most nurses in this field focus on children or senior patients.


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